Legal professionals have become impopular with the authorities, also in Europe, as is shown in the latest newsletter of Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE):
European Parliament Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA)
The CCBE has been following developments regarding the European Parliament Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA). On 28 June the two Co-Rapporteurs published their draft Report and draft Recommendations, and both are very critical of the legal profession and very damaging to self-regulatory bodies and professional privilege. The draft Report and Recommendations were open to amendments until 5 September and a vote took place in the Committee on 18 October. The CCBE has been working to ensure that both the role of the self-regulatory body is understood and that the importance of legal professional privilege/professional secrecy is understood as a number of proposed amendments did not reflect such an understanding. It is expected that the final Report and Recommendations will be voted on in December at a meeting of the European Parliament plenary session.
CCBE is further providing information on the revision of the 4th Anti-money laundering Directive and on the proposal regarding minimum rules in Europe concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of money laundering:
Revision of the 4th Anti-money laundering Directive
The European Parliament and the Council are carrying out ‘trilogue’ negotiations, assisted by the Commission, with a view to reaching an agreement on a revised Directive. To date, there have been 8 trilogue negotiations in order to reach a compromise. There are a number of issues, which require further progress at a political level, as there are significant differences between the positions of the Parliament and Member States on a number of points. For the CCBE, there are many issues of interest including obligations on the self-regulatory body, beneficial ownership provisions and trusts, enhanced due diligence requirements, the role of the Financial Intelligence Units and provisions regarding tax advice and other matters.
Proposal for a Directive on countering money laundering by criminal law
The CCBE is following the legislative developments regarding a Proposal for a Directive on countering money laundering by criminal law. The proposal itself aims to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of money laundering, as well as common provisions to improve the investigation of those offences and to better cooperation in the fight against money laundering. The key elements of the proposal include
(1) Money laundering offences
(2) Penalties for natural persons
(3) Aggravating circumstances
(4) Liability of and sanctions for legal persons (5) Jurisdiction.
The measure was announced by the Commission in its Action Plan on the fight against terrorist financing. It was proposed as the Commission noted that all Member States have criminalised money laundering, but that differences between Member States as to the definition of money laundering and the sanctions applied remained.